Wednesday, 24 July 2024


CLEARLAKE – Clearlake Police have made an arrest in a case involving several reports of property from Lower Lake High School's locker rooms during a recent football game.

A report from Clearlake Police Lt. Mike Hermann explained that the thefts were reported on Oct. 26, during a football game in which Lower Lake hosted Kelseyville High School.

Hermann said visiting teams routinely dress out in the girl's locker room at Lower Lake High and store their belonging in the lockers.

At some point during the game, a person entered the locker rooms and stole approximately $253 in cash and an iPod, Hermann said.

Clearlake Police Officer Carl Miller, who is currently assigned as the School Resource Officer for Konocti Unified School District, began investigating the case shortly after the thefts were reported, Hermann said.

During Miller's investigation he identified a 15-year-old male suspect who had previously attended Kelseyville High School, and who is currently a Clearlake resident and Lower Lake High School student, according to Hermann.

The teenage suspect had reportedly told several other students about the theft and had apparently exchanged the iPod for other goods, Hermann reported.

Miller contacted and arrested the suspect on Nov. 2, said Hermann, and is currently in the process of trying to track down the subject with the iPod.

Hermann reported that the 15-year-old suspect was later transported to the Lake County Juvenile Hall facility and housed.

Miller credited several students for their assistance with his investigation and willingness to "do the right thing,” which helped lead to the arrest, according to Hermann.

If you have information in the case contact Clearlake Police at 994-8251.


The tour offers great views of Langtry's beautiful countryside. Photo by Harold LaBonte.


MIDDLETOWN – Wine tasting in Lake County just became a moving event at Langtry Estate & Vineyards in Guenoc Valley.

Langtry now offers guided tours of the winery and the vineyards themselves. The tours begin at the visitor center. Guests, five at a time, are transported around the 21,000-plus acres in one of two brand new electric vehicles.

The modern, virtually silent vehicles are driven by tour host Jose Vasquez. Vasquez has decades of experience in the wine business, extending across several counties and with some of the best known premium brands.

Vasquez offers up a plethora of Langtry history as well as a keen knowledge of viticulture facts and information throughout the tour.


A portrait of Lillie Langtry. Photo by Harold LaBonte.

Tephra Ridge is the first major stop on the tour. Located five miles from the visitor center and 1,200 feet above the valley floor, we found, among the hillside vineyards, a level clearing and a trellis covered with old-growth grapevines that provide a shaded area for two large picnic tables. Low stone walls surround the picnic area providing as framework reminiscent of old European architecture.

It is here that Vasquez set up lunch and began the first wine tasting, featuring a 2004 Petite Sirah and a 2006 Sauvignon Blanc, both from the top shelf of the Langtry line and either one a great match to the cuisine, depending on your preferences.


Tour guide Jose Vasquez sets up for lunch. Photo by Harold LaBonte.

The ride back to the valley floor takes guests through some of the most recent winegrape plantings as well as through several acres of decades-old vines. Each parcel is expertly tended and as well-groomed as a first-class golf course.

The home of the estate's namesake, Lillie Langtry, dates back to the late 19th century and is being reconstructed. It will be added to the tour in the not-too-distant future.


Lillie Langtry's home on the property, undergoing renovation. Photo by Harold LaBonte.

Returning to the visitor center, guests may tour the mechanical side of the winemaking operation and view the large wooden vessels that each hold many hundreds of gallons of wine, dozens of them standing 20 feet tall or higher.

Across the aisle are hundreds upon hundreds of oak barrels. Each contains red wine, which sits for up to three and a half years before reaching the bottling stage.


Oak barrels store the wine before bottling. Photo by Harold LaBonte.

The visitor center houses several executive offices as well as a tasting room and a very well designed gift shop containing a wide variety of food and wine-related products.

Two tours are offered. A wine tasting and cheese pairing experience is offered at 10 a.m. and again at 2 p.m. The lunch tour, as described, departs at 11:30 a.m. Reservations are required.

Set aside two hours for the lunch tour and a look around the grounds.

Langtry Estate and Vineyard’s hospitality office can be reached by calling Lori at 707-987-2385 or check out their web site,

E-mail Harold LaBonte at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


A new electric car that shuttles visitors around the grounds. Photo by Harold Labonte.


LAKE COUNTY – It's the only weekend of the year where you gain an hour, but you have to remember to turn your clocks back.

Daylight Savings Time ends Sunday morning at 2 a.m. At that time – or before going to bed Saturday night – turn back the clock one hour.

Fire officials remind people that when you go to turn your clock back this weekend it's also a good time to remember to check batteries in smoke alarms.

Beginning this year, the dates for the beginning and end of Daylight Savings Time changed thanks to the federal Energy Policy Act of 2005, according to a report from the California Energy Commission.

The new energy act caused Daylight Savings Time to start on the second Sunday in March, three weeks earlier than it did previously, the California Energy Commission reported. It also extended Daylight Savings Time by one week, to the first Sunday in November.

Originally, the act suggested adding two full months to Daylight Savings Time, one in spring and one in fall, according to the California Energy Commission. However, that proposal raised concerns for farmers who were concerned about the impact on livestock, and airline officials who argued that the extension could cause problems with international flight scheduling.

Part of the reason given for the time change was energy savings. However, the California Energy Commission's Demand Analysis Office published a report in May titled “The Effect of Early Daylight Saving Time on California Electricity Consumption: A Statistical Analysis.”

The report stated: "The extension of Daylight Saving Time (DST) to March 2007 had little or no effect on energy consumption in California, according to a statistical analysis. The most likely approximation is a 0.2 percent decrease during these three weeks. Given the natural variation in consumption, however, the margin of electricity use change associated with early DST could have been one and a half percent of increase or decrease without such effects showing up statistically. Formally, weather- and lighting-corrected savings from DST were estimated at 0.18 percent with a 95 percent confidence interval ranging from 1.5 percent savings to a 1.4 percent increase."

So, remember to set your clocks to the right time this weekend. That way, you won't show up for work too early on Monday.

E-mail Elizabeth Larson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


LAKE COUNTY – Lake County's air quality and fire officials reported Monday that the countywide burn ban has once again been lifted and the fire season closed.

Effective Tuesday, Nov. 6, the burn ban in Lake County has ended; however, Tuesday will be a no burn day, according to Bob Reynolds of the Lake County Air Quality Management District.

Only those with an economic exemption will be allowed to burn Tuesday, Reynolds reported.

The burn ban previously had been lifted effective Oct. 22, but fire concerns and dry conditions around the state led officials to reinstate it.

Burn permits are required for all burns in the Lake County Air Basin. Contact your local Fire Protection Agency for a burn permit or the Lake County Air Quality Management District to obtain a Smoke Management Plan for burns that may last overnight or for several days.

All agencies charge fees for open waste burning permits ranging from $21 for agricultural, residential and smoke management plans, to $64 for land development/lot clearing.

Residential burn permits require a one-acre or larger lot, a burn location at least 100 feet from all neighbors and 30 feet from any structure. Burn hours are 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. only.

Land Clearing burns require specified permits. Permits may be obtained from your local fire agency.

Multi-day burns, standing vegetation, whole tree/vine removals and all burns over 20 acres in size must obtain a Smoke Management Plan from the Lake County Air Quality Management District. Read your burn permit carefully and follow all conditions.

Each day of the burning season is designated as either a “no burn day,” a “limited burn day” or an “agricultural extended burn day.” On “no burn days” all open burning is illegal unless an exemption has been issued for a specific fire. Burning is generally allowed from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. only. Burn only the amount of material that can be completely consumed during the allowed burning hours. Only vegetation may be burned.

Daily Burn Day status is available from your local burn information numbers: North County at 263-3121 and South County at 994-4444.

Remember to ensure adequate clearance for fire safety.

• Please consider composting as an alternative to burning leaves.

• Use the vegetative waste pickup provided with your waste collection services.

• Avoid smoldering fires and reduce the amount of air pollution by burning only dry vegetation.

• DO NOT burn green vegetation or wet leaves.

• Remember it is illegal to use a burn barrel, or to burn plastics, metals, treated wood or petroleum wastes, burn only vegetation.

• Contact your local fire safe council for chipping program information.

The law requires that an able-bodied adult supervise all fires. Burning even a small amount of illegal material can result in toxic ash and smoke, which cause cancer and other health problems, and can result in significant fines.

Your neighbors may be allergic to smoke; please be considerate. Some people have respiratory problems and their health is degraded by even small amounts of smoke. If your smoke enters your neighbor’s air space, ask them if it is bothering them and take corrective action if needed.

A permit does not allow you to create health problems for others and you can be liable for fines and other costs associated with your burning.


November skies at 8 p.m. on Nov. 15.


LAKE COUNTY – November brings thoughts of Thanksgiving, and that traditional entrée, turkey. So you would think there must be a turkey somewhere in the night sky to commemorate this important holiday.


Alas – there is no turkey. The patterns of stars we call constellations were decided centuries ago, long before we invented Thanksgiving. But there are a lot of other critters and people up there we can admire. They come from Greek mythology.

Let’s start with Pegasus, the great winged horse. Look toward the south, and high up in the night sky you will see a giant square. That is Pegasus.

Next to Pegasus is Andromeda, a beautiful princess. And next to Andromeda is the ancient Greek hero, Perseus.

These three characters provide the basis for a nice adventure story that has Andromeda chained to a rock, ready to be devoured by a dragon. Then along comes Perseus to the rescue, riding Pegasus, his great winged flying steed!

Look at the November star chart, then at the constellation artwork to identify these characters. On the November star chart you will note a constellation just south of Pegasus named Pisces. Pisces is a pair of fish. Rumor has it, if you fish at night on Clear Lake when Pisces is high in the night sky you will catch your limit and a whole lot more (and please don’t believe everything you read in this column!).


Constellation artwork courtesy of

Speaking of Perseus, there is a remarkable astronomical event occurring at the time of this writing. It’s a comet named Holmes (named after its discoverer, English amateur astronomer Edwin Holmes in 1892).

For reasons we don’t fully understand, this normally faint comet suddenly flared into a bright object on Oct. 25 in the constellation of Perseus. It can be seen with the naked eye, as shown on the Comet Holmes star chart below.

What’s curious about this comet is that we cannot see its tail. Instead, it gives the appearance of coming toward us, with the tail behind it. Through a telescope of moderate size it appears as a bright, yellowish-colored disk with a large halo around it. It remains to be seen if Comet Holmes will continue to be a bright object in November skies.


Location of Comet Holmes courtesy of Sky & Telescope.

The next public event at Taylor Observatory will be held from 8 to 11 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 17. If you are able to attend, you might be able to see the comet through one of the observatory’s telescopes.


Photograph of Comet Holmes courtesy of Lorenzo Comolli, Italy.

For more information about astronomy and local astronomy-related events, visit the Taylor Observatory website at

John Zimmerman has been an amateur astronomer for 50 years. He is a member of the Taylor Observatory staff, where, among his many duties, he helps create planetarium shows.


UKIAH – A crash along Highway 20 near Ukiah that closed down the highway on Thursday afternoon left one man with major injuries and two others – one a Lake County resident – uninjured.

A report from the Ukiah California Highway Patrol office explained that the crash occurred at 4:19 p.m. on Highway 20 east of Road A.

Jeremy Jeffers, 20, of Talmage reportedly fell asleep at the wheel of his Ford, allowing the vehicle to drift off of the roadway, the CHP reported.

Jeffers woke up, attempted to correct his vehicle's course, which the CHP said caused the vehicle to veer out of control and into the opposing traffic lane, where it collided with a 1988 Mazda 323 driven by Vernon Ward, 69, of Round Valley.

Ward was not wearing his seat belt and was immediately ejected through the driver's door, which was torn open in the collision, according to the CHP.

While Ward was left lying in the westbound traffic lane, his car continued on to become involved in a secondary collision with a 2003 Chevy Tracker driven by 53-year-old Marilyn Saderlund of Kelseyville, the CHP reported.

Meanwhile, Jeffers' vehicle continued out of control and collided with an embankment bordering the roadway's south side, where it came to rest.

CHP began receiving 911 calls from cell phones around 4:20 p.m. regarding the collision, according to the CHP report.

CHP Sgt. Bill Holcomb arrived at the scene first, and found Ward lying in the roadway, “bleeding significantly,” according to the CHP report.

Holcomb began providing emergency medical care to Ward, the report stated. He was soon joined by additional CHP officers and Mendocino County Sheriff's deputies, who helped manage the collision scene, and emergency medical personnel from the Redwood Valley Fire Department.

Ward was airlifted by CalStar Air Ambulance to Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital where he was treated for major injuries, including blunt force trauma he sustained to his head and upper torso.

The accident closed down traffic in both directions for at least 30 minutes, according to Lake County News correspondent Terre Logsdon, who was traveling through the area. She said the accident, which happened near Lake Mendocino, backed up traffic nearly to Highway 101 one way and past the bridge that crosses part of the lake in the other direction.

Jeffers and Saderlund both escaped uninjured, the CHP reported. Both of them were wearing their seat belts.

CHP Officer Terry Munoz is leading the continuing investigation into the collision's cause.

E-mail Elizabeth Larson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


LAKE COUNTY – Lake County's voters will be out today to take part in elections for local school boards and special districts.

Polls open at 7 a.m. and close at 8 p.m. The location of your polling place is on the back of your sample ballot.

Up for election are three vacancies each on the boards of the Kelseyville Unified and Lakeport Unified School Districts, one vacancy on the Lucerne Elementary School District Board, and two vacancies each on the Upper Lake Union Elementary School and Upper Lake Union High School District boards.

The Lake County Board of Education has three vacancies, one each from Trustee Areas 1, 2 and 3. Mendocino-Lake Community College District's board also is seeking to fill two Lake County vacancies.

Numerous special district vacancies will be filled on Tuesday. They include Anderson Springs Community Services District, Butler-Keys Community Services District, Hidden Valley Lake Community Services District, Kelseyville Fire Protection District, Lake County Fire Protection District, South Lake County Fire Protection District, Adams Springs Water District, Buckingham Park Water District, Callayomi County Water District, Clearlake Oaks County Water District, Cobb Area County Water District, Konocti County Water District, Upper Lake County Water District and Villa Blue Estates Water District.


HOPLAND – Caltrans has announced the completion of the Hopland Roundabout project at the intersection of Route 175 and Old River Road in Mendocino County.

This modern roundabout, the first to be built in Mendocino County, is scheduled to be open to traffic beginning Tuesday afternoon, Nov. 6, weather permitting.

A traffic signal could have been used for this safety project, but a roundabout has numerous advantages at this location, according to Caltrans. Those include:

  • A smaller footprint than a signalized intersection with left-turn lanes, so less new right-of-way was required.

  • Providing traffic calming, resulting in reduced speeds.

  • Requiring less maintenance, lower yearly operational costs, and a longer service life.

  • Providing a safe place for large trucks to safely turn around.

  • Enhancing the roundabout with landscaping will create an aesthetic gateway to the community.

For more information on the advantages of roundabouts, and how to navigate them, see


City crews are busy at work rebuilding parts of South Main Street. Photo by Harold LaBonte.

LAKEPORT – A street reconstruction project may slower drivers for the next few days.

Reconstruction of South Main Street between Lakeport Boulevard and the Social Security Office has drivers enduring lane closures as well as rough road surfaces.

A supervisor from Pavement Engineering Inc. indicated that the project is slated for completion early next week.

E-mail Harold LaBonte at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..



Drivers will experience some delays until the project is complete next week. Photo by Harold LaBonte.




LAKE COUNTY – A San Francisco man's double-murder trial may start next week.

Renato Hughes, 23, is scheduled to go on trial for the December 2005 deaths of Christian Foster and Rashad Williams.

Lake County News' last report on the case stated that the trial appeared ready to begin on Nov. 6.

However, late last week District Attorney Jon Hopkins said jury selection is still under way.

Hopkins estimated opening arguments and the first evidence in the trial could take place on Wednesday, Nov. 14.

Foster and Williams were shot by Clearlake Park resident Shannon Edmonds as they ran from his home after an alleged attempted robbery on Dec. 7, 2005.

However, Hughes is being tried for their deaths under the provocative act theory, which holds him responsible because he is alleged to have participated in a crime that resulted in a lethal response, in this case by Edmonds.

Hopkins, a veteran prosecutor with a nearly flawless record when it comes to winning homicide convictions, will be matched with Hughes' defense attorney, Stuart Hanlon of San Francisco.

Hanlon may be best known for his work on the case of Geronimo Pratt, a Louisianan and Vietnam veteran who became a member of the Black Panthers.

Pratt was imprisoned for 27 years for a murder he didn't commit. It was Hanlon and famed attorney Johnnie Cochran who eventually succeeded in willing Pratt's release in 1997.

In 2003, Hanlon was a member of the legal team representing San Francisco Police Chief Earl Sanders and nine officers facing obstruction of justice charges, according to a San Francisco Chronicle account.

The Chronicle stated that Hanlon was considered one of San Francisco's best defense attorneys.

Hanlon has tried unsuccessfully, so far, to have Hughes' case moved from Lake County, citing concerns about the largely white makeup of the county's population.

E-mail Elizabeth Larson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


HIDDEN VALLEY – Area residents are invited to learn how to prepare for, and survive, a natural disaster at a special event Saturday.

The Family Disaster Preparedness Fair will take place from 9:30 a.m to 3 p.m. today, Saturday, Nov. 3, at Coyote Elementary School, 18950 Coyote Valley Road, off Hartmann Road.

Organizer George Lehne said 15 groups will be on hand to share information about disaster preparedness, including Cal Fire, the Office of Emergency Services, South County Fire Protection District, Lake County's Health Department, Lake County Social Services, Lake Transit, Animal Care and Control, Red Cross, Hidden Valley officials, water providers, schools and senior centers.

A focal point of the event is a question-and-answer session for residents to information them about how to protect themselves against fires, floods, pandemics and earthquakes, Lehne said.

In addition, Lehne said there will be displays and demonstrations of disaster equipment, information for seniors, activities for children and pet protection tips, along with food and drink.

E-mail Elizabeth Larson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


LUCERNE – The Lake County Planning Commission has given the go ahead for California Water Service to move forward on a project to add a new water tank to its Lucerne system.

On Oct. 18 the Planning Commission held a public hearing and accepted a use permit and a mitigated negative declaration on Cal Water's proposed 300,000-gallon water storage tank, according to Melissa Floyd, the special products consultant working on the project for the Community Development Department.

The project, located at 5717 Fennel Drive, 4942 and 4963 Utopia Trail in Lucerne, also includes moving 1,200 cubic yards of fill, according to planning documents.

Floyd said the new tank will be next to the company’s existing 200,000-gallon tank on Utopia Trail, located on a hillside above Lucerne.

Floyd said the county is requiring Cal Water to get a use permit for the water tank.

The county also felt the tank needed oversight due to the significant grading that will be done, said Floyd. “There was not going to be anyone else looking at it.”

The use permit and the removal of the fill dirt triggers the California Environmental Quality Act, said Floyd, under which the county is the lead agency for the tank project.

Floyd said with the building plan they have, there is nothing to indicate there will be stability issues. Plans include contouring and possibly adding a retaining wall.

The next step in the process for the company is construction, said Floyd.

“They’re hoping they can do it this winter,” said Floyd, which would make it subject to winter grade provisions under the grading ordinance.

Tony Carrasco – Cal Water's Oroville district manager who has been overseeing Lucerne, which has been without a district manager since Bill Koehler left earlier this year – confirmed that the company wants to break ground on the tank this month.

However, breaking ground will be dependent on satisfying the increased requirements that come with winter grading, said Floyd.

Those include very strict erosion control and protecting the site from rain.

“They need to be able to button up the site at the end of any work day,” she said.

Ultimately, said Floyd, Community Development Director Rick Coel must give the go-ahead for winter grading work.

The water tank is separate from Cal Water’s plant update, said Floyd.

“Because it’s a semi-public utility the county does not have jurisdiction to permit the plant itself,” she said. “We only have jurisdiction for the water tank.”

Carrasco said the company currently has 624,000 gallons of storage. The new tank will allow the company to produce “a little more” water, Carrasco added.

“It’s going to serve for several different purposes,” said Carrasco, including meeting peak demand during summer months, having enough water for fire prevention and allowing a moratorium on hookups to Lucerne's system to be lifted.

Ultimately, Carrasco said the additional storage will allow the company to add more customers to its Lucerne base of 1,200 hookups.

Carrasco said Cal Water hopes to have the tank completed by the early summer of 2008, in conjunction with the completion of the new treatment plant.

The company also is working on pipe replacement, said Carrasco. Cal Water currently is looking at areas with histories of leaks and major veins in the system – Country Club, Highway 20 and Foothill – and replacing between 500 and 750 feet of main pipe annually.

“That's going to be an ongoing capital improvement into the future,” said Carrasco.

The design of the treatment plant is 100-percent complete and has been awarded to a contractor, said Carrasco. Construction on the plant also is scheduled to begin this month.

The plant is contingent on approval by the state Department of Health Services, which so far has not returned calls from Lake County News seeking the status of Cal Water's plant application.

The new plant will include an ultraviolet system and microfiltration, which will be placed within the footprint of the existing building on Highway 20, said Carrasco. The plant design utilizes former storage areas for buildout, in order to cut down on costs.

Carrasco said the cost to build the new tank is still being estimated; the plant will cost $2.8 million to construct, an amount that doesn’t include engineering or new equipment.

Earlier this year the company scaled back its plans for the new plant, saving a reported $1 million, as Lake County News previously reported.

The new plant will allow the water system to keep up with community demands as well as those of visitors.

Carrasco said they’re planning to have the same capacity for the new plant; the difference is, the new plant shouldn’t have water quality issues, he said.

“The plant controls will adjust to the water quality,” said Carrasco, and changing conditions won’t result in boil order conditions.

Over the last several years Cal Water's Lucerne system has had many boil water notices, the most recent, lasting for four days, was issued in late September.

“This has been a long time coming,” said Carrasco, who added that the completed plant will be a “great thing for the community.”

Dealing with community moratorium

Both Floyd and Carrasco said that Lucerne currently is under a water hookup moratorium imposed by the state Department of Health Services.

Additional hookup requests have to be authorized through the Department of Health Services, Carrasco said, which looks at the requests on a case-by-case basis.

Floyd said that, generally, Community Development doesn’t issue building permits for  homes unless the builder can prove they have a water source.

“It’s taken pretty seriously at the Community Development Department level,” said Floyd.

The decision to lift the moratorium, Floyd added, must come from the state.

Lake County News has not received return calls from state officials in the Department of Health Services on the status of the hookup moratorium and when it might be lifted.

E-mail Elizabeth Larson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


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